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Great Decisions Overview

Informed Citizens Make “Great Decisions”
Foreign Policy Association


The Foreign Policy Association was founded in 1918 as the League of Free Nations Association. It was formed by 141 distinguished Americans to support President Woodrow Wilson's efforts to achieve a just peace after World War I. The Association was reconstituted in 1923 as the Foreign Policy Association with a commitment to the careful study of all sides of international questions affecting the U.S. John Foster Dulles and Eleanor Roosevelt were among the incorporators.

By the 1920s and 30s the number of citizen discussion groups grew and spread to more and more regions of the U.S. These discussion forums became the model for the World Affairs Council program in the 1950s.

The mission of the Foreign Policy Association today, as it has been throughout its 98-year history, is to serve as a catalyst for developing awareness, understanding, and informed opinion on U.S. foreign policy and global issues. Through its balanced, nonpartisan programs and publications, the FPA encourages citizens to participate in the foreign policy process.

The mission of the Foreign Policy Association is supported across the county by the network of independent community-based World Affairs Councils that share its vision to foster public participation in the foreign policy process. The goal of the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California is to provide a program model that…

  • Informs people of the issues and their impact through validated, nonpartisan information from multiple perspectives. 
  • Engages people in discussions, seminars, public lectures, and networking with others virtually and in person.
  • Inspires people from all walks of life to participate as American and global citizens in international experiences and decision-making.

Great Decisions Foreign Policy Discussion Programs
Resources for Group Leaders

The Great Decisions discussion program about the most critical global issues is one of the best citizen education programs in America and has been for almost 100 years.  The Great Decisions program is run by the Foreign Policy Association in New York City. The program model involves these elements:

        • The Great Decisions Briefing Book
        • DVD or iTunes video on the topic by a top foreign policy specialist
        • Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues.

The Great Decisions briefing book serves as the focal text for discussion groups by providing non partisan and fact checked background information, expert analysis, and suggested discussion questions for each foreign policy issue.  The Great Decisions program has adapted to multiple formats, including informal discussion groups, public lectures and formal high school and university courses. The topics for the briefing book are selected from input by both the general public and by specialists in foreign policy. Eight of the most critical foreign policy issues facing America become the issues for the annual briefing book. 

In addition there is a supporting set of video briefings on the Great Decisions annual topics that are broadcast on PBS and available on DVD and iTunes.  The foreign Policy Association blog network, Foreign Policy Blogs, is advertised as the largest network of global affairs blogs online. The blog writers are

        • Journalists
        • Academics
        • Business Persons
        • Non-profit Leaders
        • Think Tank Researchers

 The World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California is a strong supporter of the Great Decisions program. We have encouraged teachers to attend annual summer sessions on how to use the program in high school classrooms and with world affairs clubs. We have offered Great Decisions speaker series and routinely choose  some of our speakers each year to address the annual topics.

In the Inland Region, the American Association of University Women has been very active in supporting Great Decisions discussion programs. Other types of organizations that host Great Decisions discussions in California are public libraries, senior citizens groups, United Nations associations, League of Women voters, and Rotary Clubs.

The Foreign Policy Association has developed several very useful guides for how to set up Great Decisions programs in various kinds of environments:

Great Decisions in the Library

Great Decisions in the Classroom

Great Decisions in the Retirement Community

Great Decisions in a Faith-Based Organization


World Affairs Council of
Inland Southern California
11161 Anderson St., Suite 105-PMB 10009
Loma Linda, CA 92354

Office Phone: 909-558-7446